Before I had kids I imagined how great a mom I would be. I just knew that I would absolutely never lose my patience, I would be super cool yet inspiring at the same time and I would have kids who looked at me and thought, “I want to be just like my mom some day!”
THEN I ACTUALLY HAD KIDS.
It wasn’t long before I realized that losing my patience would occur more often than not, I would be considered generally uncool, and I was far too old (35 is practically in the grave, you know!) for my kids to be filled with inspiration every time they looked at me. So you can imagine my sheer excitement when Aimee, my 13-year-old, told me that she wanted to run a race with me. I remained cool and calm on the outside but inside I was doing an epic happy dance!
“Yes!” I thought, “I’m doing something right. She sees me running and wants to be like me.”
We searched for a 5k race to sign up for and it was all so fun and exciting until we actually started the running part together. Our first training run was a 3.2k loop that I knew would be mostly flat. I excitedly started blasting a playlist from my phone for everyone to hear. We started running and I started chatting. This was going to be such a great time of bonding!
“Mom,” Aimee said as we ran, “don’t talk to me.”
“What?!” I was pretty sure I had heard her wrong.
“Stop talking to me. You’re making me lose my energy!”
(Apparently, I hadn’t heard her wrong.)
“You don’t have to answer me,” I told her. “I’m just trying to help distract you so you don’t have to think about running.” (Did she not realize how helpful I was being?)
“It annoys me when you talk while I’m running and then I lose my energy cause it all goes out when I’m mad at your talking and I can’t spend that energy on my running.”
I’m not sure exactly how I responded but it probably wasn’t very mature. I did shut up and we finished our run in silence other than the music blaring from my phone.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to run with Aimee anymore because I had built up our running together as the perfect mother-daughter bonding time where we would get to know each other and become best friends! Since she wanted to run in silence, how would this ever happen? Who would take care of me when I was old now?
We did a few more training runs in silence together and then it was race day. On our way to the race Aimee told me that she wanted to run the 5k in under 30 minutes and that she wanted me to force her NO MATTER WHAT IT TOOK.
We lined up at the start and headed across the line in silence. She followed closely as I ran around people trying to hit a decent pace. I was determined to get her that finish time she wanted so as we got close to the water station I commanded that she not take any water! We had no time for such nonsense. We ran past the outstretched cups and into the last half of the race.
As we passed 3.5k Aimee looked at me with a distraught expression and said, “Mom, I don’t like this anymore.”
I knew that in that moment she didn’t need me to be silent anymore. I told her how amazing she was doing and how proud I was of her for being so determined. I’m not sure if she believed me but she didn’t tell me to be quiet this time!
As we ran I kept talking. I pointed out the 4km sign and then the finish line in the distance as we approached it. Aimee started sprinting and I tried to keep up as we flew across the line in 29:51 smashing her goal of sub 30 in her first race ever!
I was (and still am) so proud of her hard work and determination, but I am also so grateful for the lessons I learned from running with her. Sometimes we need people to run alongside us in silence, our feet pounding the pavement in unison. Other times we need someone to talk to us while we run; someone to tell us that we can do it and show us that the finish line is coming and that we are going to make it!
Running with your teenage daughter might not be what you expect it to be, but in the end it might just be so much more.